The Grip of Sound


Even before materializing or becoming a signal, the sonorous—sound—in order to be, must leave a trace. Like a parasite, in order to exist it first of all needs a host. This necessary support is not so much the air, or any other medium that is informed by sound and testifies to it through the trail it leaves behind as it propagates. The trace is not necessarily a material, physical host; it precedes the pertinence of any such distinction. It is that which testifies to a passage, that which harbours and reveals a past presence by continuing to manifest it. Sound disappears the very moment it appears, or more exactly in the moment of its appearing, and so the trace is the primordial means by which it can be integrated into a regime of permanence—one that must, moreover, be distinguished from the regime of representation: sound recording (and its associated process of playback, which is nothing other than the re-presentation of sound held in memory) can only reproduce, infinitely if so required, the cycle of the appearing and disappearing of sound; that is to say, it can only reveal, over and over again, its irreducible fugacity. In any case, it does not fix sound—all it can do is to reactualize it on demand, which is something entirely different. Without itself being presence, the trace draws sound toward a regime of permanence that is located upstream of any process of ‘conservation’. It is the manifestation of sound, the ‘both suprasensible and sensible’ halo surrounding it, affirming and activating its existence. It anticipates the possibility of a place for sound, a stable space, albeit a precarious one…